Smoking may cost more than the money smokers spend on cigarettes – unemployed smokers are less likely to get new jobs, and when they do, they earn an average of US$5 less an hour than non smokers.
This new study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine was conducted by Judith J. Prochaska, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Stanford University, California, and coauthors, who examined smoking status in a 12-month period in a group of 251 unemployed job seekers in California.
The research, which included 7% of Asian participants, noted the smokers consuming an average of 13.5 cigarettes per day at baseline.
Among the 217 participants who completed 12-month follow-up surveys, 56% of the non smokers were reemployed compared with 27% of smokers, suggesting that non smokers are 30% more likely on average to be reemployed at one year compared with smokers.
Non smokers also earned more money. The hourly wage for smokers was about $5 less at an average of $15.10 per hour compared with $20.27 per hour for nonsmokers. At an average of 32 hours per week, this is a deficit of more than $8,300 annually.
The study notes limitations that include exclusion criteria, sample size and participants in a geographic area with a low smoking prevalence and a high stigma about smoking.
The authors also suggested employment service agencies could raise awareness of tobacco-related costs, wage losses, health harms and associations with lower reemployment success, in such cases.